My name is Sheila Horne and I am the author of two novels: Sunshine Girls, and Paper Sun (the sequel to Sunshine Girls). My articles, poems and short stories have been published in various magazines and anthologies – most recently in The Inspired Heart (Editions 2 and 3), and CommuterLit’s Arrivals and Departures. I also co-authored a book of poems called Temple of Light, which was inspired by the Sharon Temple near my home in Markham, Ontario.
I spend a lot of time observing people, and listening in on conversations. I once went to a party and returned home to write an entire movie script based on a man I met whose wife had died from leukemia. I remember writing until 4 in the morning. I gave him a new life.
I also enjoy writing about Toronto, Canada, which is where I spent a lot of my young adulthood. Both of my books take place on the Danforth, and also Wasaga Beach. I’m a music fanatic, and I love weaving music and lyrics into my writing. I am fascinated by the way a song can trigger a particular memory, and then a story comes alive.
And it’s not just the physical act of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) that I love. I also like to talk about writing, and to share my writing experiences with others. I facilitate writing programs and workshops for local community members. I am also a member of the Writers’ Community of York Region.
When I was 14 years old, living in the small town of Bryan, Texas, I had a strict curfew and wasn’t allowed to go out at night (unless I was going to the Catholic Youth Organization Dances). When my favourite shows weren’t on TV—you know, Ed Sullivan, Patty Duke, Father Knows Best, My Three Sons, to name a few—I didn’t really have anything to do.
So I started writing.
In 1966, while packing up my room for a move from Texas to Toronto, I destroyed the stories. Looking back, of course, I wish I hadn’t. But I honestly didn’t think I would continue to write.
Was I ever wrong. During my late teens in Toronto, I wrote protest poems fueled by Bob Dylan singing about times changing and Johnny in the basement mixing up some kind of medicine. Not to mention, The Who talking about “My Generation”.
When I was 17, I had this dream that I would work at the Toronto Star one day. I was very ambitious. I figured I’d start out sharpening the other writers’ pencils, and eventually I would become a journalist.
I also had this idea that I would write the greatest Canadian novel. As I approached my 20s, I decided it would be the greatest Ontario novel. Then, when I got into my 40s, my hopes were to write the greatest Toronto novel. When I wrote my first book, I said to myself, “I’ll just write a novel.”
And so I did. Sunshine Girls was published in 2014.
Looking back, it really doesn’t matter whether or not my dreams were followed. I am doing what I love. I spend my days listening to music while letting my imagination fly on 26 letters of the alphabet.
PLACE OF BIRTH: British Guiana.
FAVOURITE MUSICIAN:I have so many it’s hard to pick one. I seem to go from one band to another. One day I’ll listen to rock, the next day blues, then jazz. But lately I’ve been listening to Blue Rodeo, Rod Stewart, and the old Motown bands.
FAVOURITE SEASON: Summer. I’ve always felt like life truly begins during the long weekend in May. In my twenties it was time to head to Wasaga Beach with my friends. Now, my summer months are filled with music festivals, countryside drives, barbecues and trips to the farmer’s market.
FAVOURITE PASTIME: I love photography. I also enjoy sitting in the backyard, reading a book and eating cherries. And walking my dog.
FIRST CIGARETTE: When I was 16. There were a lot of firsts that night. It was the first time I went out with my girlfriends in downtown Toronto, and my first time riding the subway at night. Walking down the street, a girl named Doreen asked if I wanted a cigarette. I said, “sure.” I remember how dizzy and sick I felt after that first inhale.
TOP “WRITER” MOMENT: After writing for many years, the first time I really felt I had made it as a writer was in 2014. My first novel, Sunshine Girls, had been released in March and my short story, Corsets and Fudge was published in the Anthology, The Inspired Heart, Edition 2.
TIP FOR MANAGING WRITERS’ BLOCK: Write every day – whether you feel like it or not. Just pick a word, a character, or a scene, and write about it. And if you’re truly not in the mood to write, try reading instead.
LIFE PURPOSE: Despite my strict Catholic upbringing, I follow the Buddhist concept. I’ve been studying it for years and it’s changed my perspective about writing, the world and myself. I’m a very liberal thinker. That said, I’m not the kind of person who thinks I’m here for a purpose in life; I just love to do what I do. Maybe my purpose was to bring my sons into the world (and maybe their grandchildren will be famous, who knows?).
BELIEF ABOUT THE WORLD: I’m not one to believe in higher judgment, even though I was raised to think like that. I don’t believe in good or bad. Your good is my bad, and vice versa. A lot of people think the world is bad and scary right now; I don’t. I believe we’re in a better place. I have every faith in the generation coming of age today. I watch them and listen to them, and I truly believe they’re going to make a change.
Anything else you’d like to know? I’d love to hear from you.